For all intents and purposes, Pattaya should be the number one golfing location in South-East-Asia with so much choice in regards to pricing, quality and diversity. From meticulously pruned championship courses to local municipal style courses, Pattaya has them all and everything in between. As an avid golfer, I have played the majority of courses in the region, so let me give you a rundown on the best championship golf courses in Pattaya.
Although Championship style courses are mainly quite difficult for those of us who consider ourselves as rank amateurs, there is nothing better than challenging yourself and playing a course fit for professionals. Pattaya has a nice collection of what I define as ?Championship Courses?. The Siam Country Club, situated just a 15-minute drive from downtown Pattaya has two Championship courses ? The Plantation, and The Old Course. The Plantation is a 27-hole course built in 2008 and designed by the Arizona-based renowned designers, Schmidt & Curley Design Inc. Taking its name from the surrounding Sugar Cane, Tapioca, and Pineapple plantations, which are also the individual names of each 9 holes. The Plantation is a fascinating mix of lofty tee-offs, stunningly maintained fairways and greens and a colossal amount of sand traps. Weave your way through this gem of a course and make sure you are hitting the ball well.
The Old Course, on the other hand, was first built in 1972, but enjoyed some renovation work in 2006. During 2007, the course hosted the Honda LPGA Thailand, which shows you the high standards we are talking about. The Old Course is more of a traditional course, much flatter than The Plantation and much more user-friendly. Don?t let this become a false dawn, because the 18 holes are also quite challenging ? as you would expect from a Championship course.
My favorite Championship course in and around Pattaya is the Laem Chabang International Country Club. Its breathtaking scenery is something else, and the fact that it was designed by golf messiah, Jack Nicklaus, makes it even more desirable for golfers. Situated a 25-minute drive outside Pattaya at the neighboring Laem Chabang, this is a must-play course when visiting the region ? it?s like going to Egypt and forgetting to view the Giza Plateau, completely sacrilegious! This lush and exotic course comprises three sets of 9 holes – named the Mountain 9, Lake 9, and the Valley 9. Each set is roughly 3,500 yards in length and a test for any golfer, although in my opinion, much more forgiving that the Siam Country Club Plantation Course. Each hole has its own name and the aesthetics of each is akin to a work of art seamlessly sculptured into natural surroundings. Not only is the course a sight for sore eyes, but the clubhouse and facilities are five-star by anyone?s imagination. Another great feature of Laem Chabang is that it?s the only golf course in the region that offers night golf, as the course is fully floodlit, which is perfect if the temperatures are too hot for you to handle.